Archive for July, 2005

Selling Yourself: Self Promotion

Monday, July 11th, 2005

Beginning MomAdvice has been quite the journey for me and I never thought that it would have become a full-time job, but somehow that is exactly what it has become. I originally had started it to share with others my ideas on things and to teach others about how to avoid being scammed in the work-at-home business. I never expected that I would now be fielding calls, getting requests from others to pay me to advertise, to have people join my forum, or that I would begin writing for other sites, but that is exactly what happened.

I wish that I was a woman who had years and years of business behind me and that I could offer loads of wealthy information on how to begin your own business, but I am new to the scene and am just gaining my own spot in the work-at-home world.

With that in mind, I want to share with you what I have learned through my years of sales experience and starting my own new website.

Sell Yourself but Don’t Lose Your Friends

Ever have a friend who has started direct selling and suddenly your friendship becomes about their products and is no longer about their friendship? I know that I am not the only one out there who has become increasingly annoyed with friends who are always trying to push their products onto you so that they can survive in the sales world. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I am interested in buying things, but I think that you do walk a fine line in friendships when you began selling. With friend’s, I encourage you to take a less pushy approach. Offer to share with them a brochure and if they are interested, they will let you know. Don’t repeatedly continue to bother them or they will likely avoid you so that they don’t have to be subjected to this. There are less pushy ways of going about selling your business. For example, if you sell something that you think your friend would like, get it for them for their birthday. You can hope that they become so dependent on your product that they will continue ordering it from you and then you will still maintain your friendship. There are ways to share your business without losing your friendship, you just need to learn to keep the friendship first and the business second.

Love What You Sell but Not Too Much

When I was in college, I sold AVON products to help me financially during those starving college years. I had always admired the AVON products and thought that this would be a perfect thing for me to share with my girlfriends. Let’s just say that I probably could have made some money, but instead I fell into the trap. You know, the trap where you just have to have all of the products for yourself and what would have been proceeds from sales now becomes just fulfilling your own cosmetic fix. You have to exercise some real self-control when selling these types of products because you end up losing money rather than gaining it. If you really want to have all of their products, then set a goal for yourself of how much you need to make before you buy an item for yourself. I know it is terribly tempting especially when you are getting things for next to nothing, but you must learn to exercise some self-control if you want to succeed in your business. When you begin succeeding and building up loads of customers then that is the time to partake in the goods yourself.

Networking & Advertising

Networking is one of the most time-consuming parts of starting a work-at-home business. I spend hours upon hours a day on every single type of board imaginable trying to get our name out there. When you are first beginning a business, you may not have the funds to pay for someone to advertise your site for you, so you have to begin to think of more inventive ways of getting recognized. There are lots of different ways to do this; one is exchanging advertising with another company. This is usually referred to a link exchange or a banner exchange. One important thing to remember when exchanging links with someone is to make sure that their site is actually a good platform for your own. I also recommend that you not exchange links with sites that are in direct competition with the same audience. For example, I would not sell AVON products on a Mary Kay site because it would hurt both businesses to operate this way.

Another form of advertising is writing articles for other sites. There are many sites out there that accept articles and I submit my articles to a variety of different sites. Some require that your article appear on your own site, others require unique stories that are written only for their site, and others have no criteria. Whatever the criteria, always make sure that you have a very good byline that would attract those readers to your site. Within this byline provide information about your company/services and a web address where they can go for more information.

You can also advertise on different Yahoo groups and chat boards. It is important to know what the rules are for that group/board because you don’t want to be remembered for advertising when it is not allowed. Follow the board regulations and if you have questions about if a post would be appropriate or not, email the moderator or site administrator to find out. One way that you can advertise is just by having your web address and a catchy phrase in your signature line. For example, my signature is:

“Being a mom is more than a title…”

You can also customize your signature lines to reflect the topic to get a more targeted audience to come to your site. It can change depending on the topic, but make sure that what you are saying you offer really is offered. Use words that draw people, but don’t make your tagline so lengthy that people decide not to read it at all. I have seen people on the boards with these enormous signature lines and sixteen links underneath their name, and you know what I do? I don’t click on it because it annoyed me that their signature took up that much space and because I don’t have time to click on sixteen links.

If you do have the funds to advertise then you need to really research the business and ask the right questions about the company before advertising. When choosing an advertiser, you want to make sure that your product fits well with their site. There really is no point in advertising if you don’t have the right target audience. I also chose places that will only accept one representative from a company because that is a better platform for me to sell my business. If there are sixty-five Pampered Chef advertisements on one site, chances are that my site is not going to be clicked as often. I always request that this is mandatory with every site that I advertise with- it is good business to handle things this way because it is more profitable for me as the advertiser.

Networking boards that are solely devoted towards networking are a great place to learn more about where to advertise and often these people that you network with will become your biggest fans. No one can celebrate more with you your successes than someone who is struggling to start their own business themselves. There is much to be gained by these friendships and you never know if one of them will become a great customer for you and benefit your own business. Always remember that networking works both ways though. Do not expect to be on the receiving end, but never offer anything back. It is customary, just as it is in friendships, to be giving too so do what you can, when you can. Offer advice and share your own knowledge so that you are a beneficial partner to network with.

Don’t Give Up

I am no motivational speaker, but I think it is important to never give up. Set goals for yourself and do your very best to achieve them. Maybe your goal is to pay off a car, go on a vacation, or just be able to go out to dinner once a week. Whatever your goal is, make sure that it is an attainable one. Start small and build up your goals as you go along. I find such a sense of accomplishment when I can check a goal off on my list and I know you will feel the same when you have accomplished one of your own “reasonable goals.” Another way you can help achieve these goals is by finding one person in your life who you can share your goals with. Doing this can hold you even more accountable for achieving these goals and can help you strive to reach each and every one of them.

I wish you much success in your endeavors as an entrepreneur and I hope that your success leads to many great things in your life.

Shake Ya Tail Feather

Friday, July 8th, 2005

Once upon a time, I was an attractive person. Not in the drop-dead-knock-you-off-your-feet attractive, but a mildly attractive woman who was able to snag herself a nice young man to spend some time with. That young man, of course, was my husband and upon being married, I realized that no one’s head would be turning for me anymore because I was a married woman.

Despite my marriage, I still thought I could maybe turn a head or two, of a gross, not-so-attractive man, in a grocery store or the mall. I knew I still had a little bit of the “it” factor left- just barely, but I was still ticking away.

Upon having a child though, I have become invisible to the male population, which is fine with me. Instead of seeing who is looking at me, in the vain way that I used to do, I now look at other mommies with their kiddos in the carts. I also look at those young whippersnappers to see exactly what clothes are in style anymore. Those are the types of things that I look at. This only happens, of course, when I am not doing a tap dance for my son in the aisles to keep him entertained.

To illustrate my point on how rare it is that a man looks at me, I will share with you all my funny story of a little incident that happened to me at Walmart…..

Last summer, our family had been out for the evening and we came home to our dark house to get ready for our nightly routine. When we flipped on the light in the kitchen, however, we found ourselves with a truly terrible problem. A problem that about flipped my little prissy heart out of my body….we had ants. Little tiny baby ants had somehow crawled through our window and were now trying to make a home in my kitchen. Well, I freaked out (just a little bit) about these stupid ants and started pouring salt all over our kitchen amid my sobs about how we were such clean people, how do these things happen to us, and a few curse words here and there. My husband just kept looking at me like I was crazy and then finally asked me what the purpose of the salt is….”To deter their sense of smell, until I can take care of this problem.” Let’s just say I felt a little bit taller after that because my husband thought I was the smartest woman alive as we watched the ants running around in a frantic circle. All I can say is that it sometimes DOES help you to read those stupid forwards people send you.

After pouring the salt, I headed over to Walmart to get some ant killer to spray all over our kitchen to rid ourselves of our pest problem. I grabbed the only type of indoor killing spray that they had and made a mad dash up to the cash register. Of course we are talking about WALMART here, so obviously I had to do a lot of waiting in line for my turn to get the heck out of there. While I waited, I people-watched and that is when I saw this guy looking at me. Considering I couldn’t even remember what I was wearing, I looked behind me to see who he was staring at….Yup, it was me! I started to gain back some of my old confidence in myself that had been lacking a little bit. I paid for my purchases and shook my tail feather all the way back to my car. All the while I am thinking, “OH YEAH! I still got it! I am still hot! I am not even TRYIN’ and this guy is looking at me.” I just couldn’t wait to run home and tell my husband just what a lucky man he was….that is when I flipped down the mirror just to take another look at my hot-self and I realized the humiliating truth. The truth that I can share with only a few people was…..I had black mascara trails running all down my face- I looked just like Tammy Faye Baker. I had mascara everywhere from my little prissy-soap-opera drama, which I apply to just about everything in my life, and that was why the guy was looking at me. Black streaks all down my pale face made me look like I was a goth-chick-wannabe- it was, to say the least, a teeny bit embarrassing.

Oh yes, my tail feather was between my legs when I arrived home to tackle those dang ants….all the while trying to chant to myself, “OH YEAH! I still got it! I am still hot!” as I spray the heck out of our kitchen.

Now how pathetic was THAT story??

Super Birthday

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

Today is Ethan’s third birthday! I can hardly believe that he is that big!

This morning I was going to make some cinnamon rolls for him & put a candle in them, but discovered that I never had any cinnamon rolls in our fridge. Hmmm…wonder why I thought I had those? I decided instead to put his candle in his bagel with peanut butter. Heck, he’s three! He could care less what I am putting the candle in because the candle is the most exciting part!

I brought his bagel down to him and he looked so precious in his Superman pj’s (complete with cape), waiting very impatiently for breakfast to be served. I took a picture of him as he attempted to blow out the candle from six feet away. You can tell we have scared the crap out of him about fire- ha!

It is moments like these where I don’t want him to get big. I know he is never going to be this little again and we will never celebrate another third birthday with him. Each year he will get bigger & older….it is all so depressing. Why must our children grow up and need you less and less?

Please allow me to weep a little bit- I think my pregnancy hormones are making me a bit more sappy than usual….

Happy Birthday, precious boy!

Stop the Insanity

Wednesday, July 6th, 2005

Let me just say, before I begin my little ranting-mantra, that using the word s-u-c-k & the word mom brings some nasties to my blog & my website. From now on, I will not be using that word. Can ya believe that the most frequently found phrase when searching has been those two words together in my little MomAdvice reports? Come on, peeps, this is a FAMILY site, ya heard? I am just a mom with a bad vocabulary. I guess what I am trying to say is be very careful of what you say because you never know what keywords people will put together- lesson learned, ya’ll.

Moving on to the real scoop on our family- we are in final preparations for mission impossible (aka- my son’s third birthday party). Am I the ONLY one who thinks that birthday parties have gotten way out of hand, or what? Can I get an “Amen!”?? I mean, who exactly was the mom who started this whole party favor thing and why in the world would someone start doing that? It is a birthday party and that translates into the birthday kid getting the presents, not all of their friends, am I right?

Let’s go back to the olden days when I walked uphill both ways to school, taught myself, and held (at least) two jobs….So…. back in those days, my birthday parties consisted of me, my family, and possibly one friend. I got to pick my favorite dinner dish and I got a couple of presents & a cake. Here are some examples of a few things that I did not get at my birthday party….

1. A clown, juggling man, mime, magician, or circus freak
2. A pony ride for each of my friends
3. A jumbo jumpee thing-a-ma-bob
4. A gazillion presents
5. Party favors for everyone who attended

I didn’t have any of those things and, ironically, my birthday was still special and it was still my day! I would just like to talk to the yahoo who originated the idea of needing these types of things at a party because now I have now become part of this sick birthday cycle…..

Here is how the cycle works (in case you haven’t gotten to be part of it)…Little Johnny invites Suzie to his birthday party. Suzie buys him a nice gift (in the ten dollar range) and comes to the amazing “Two Year Old Bash.” This two year old bash involves a full orchestra, treats made for each individual child, and a goodie bag of more treats to take home.

Then Suzie has her birthday party and, because Little Johnny invited her to his birthday party, she invites him even though Suzie and her mom think Little Johnny is..well… a brat. So Little Johnny comes and brings a nice gift (in the fifty dollar range) and Suzie’s mommy starts to panic. “Wait! We only gave Little Johnny a ten dollar gift!” Suzie’s mom feels super-guilty, but proud because this year she has party favors for each child. In each child’s bag is a few small trinkets and candy for each kid.

Little Johnny invites Suzie (because it is only fair!) to his annual birthday party the next year. Now Suzie’s mom has to buy a fifty dollar gift (because it is only fair!) and Little Johnny’s mom has to have even more fun trinkets and candy (because it is only fair!) in each child’s goodie bag.

This scenario persists until Little Johnny’s mom & Suzie’s mom either end up having mental breakdowns or each kid ends up coming home with iPods and midsize SUV’s…..

Do I make myself clear? This is just getting out of hand, people! Why do we all have to compete? Why can’t we just love each other? Let’s break the cycle! Let’s stop the insanity! Let’s say NO to party favors and all of this silliness….

Well, I must run though and work on wrapping my party favors for Ethan’s party, but I swear this is the last year I am doing this, and no one has to compete with us anymore! We lose!! You win!!

The cycle is broken- you are released from giving my kid party favors….Can I get an, “Amen!”?